What is a red flag warning?

The National Weather Service issues fire weather watches and red flag warnings when conditions could lead to extreme wildfire activity.

The watches and warnings are meant to “alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity,” according to Cal Fire.

The weather patterns that could trigger a watch or warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes or a combination of those conditions.

A red flag warning is the highest alert and it means fire weather conditions are predicted within 24 hours.

“During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire,“ Cal Fire officials said.

A fire weather watch is issued when fire weather is predicted over the next 12 to 72 hours.

Cal Fire increases staffing when fire risk is elevated in order to more quickly respond to new fires, officials said.

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